This is just what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13: when the perfect is come, the partial is done away (1 Corinthians 13:10).
The New Testament church was a foreshadowing of the perfect, but it was not the perfect. One of its chief imperfections was its human rule. This is why Peter warned his fellow shepherds that they should be ready to hand over rule to the Chief Shepherd when He appeared (1 Peter 5:1-4). That all the church’s leaders in that day would not do so was sadly and soberly prophesied by Paul (Acts 20:29-30), Peter (2 Peter 2:1), John (1 John 2:18), and the other apostles (Jude 1:3ff). Paul had even prophesied that this apostasy was one of the last signs that would appear before the coming of the kingdom (2 Thessalonians 2:3). The coming of the Lord was the separation of the wheat and the tares. The tares remain as the man-made churches we see today.
The church was the very last stage of ancient Israel, and Israel’s role in salvation was coming to an end. Thus all the New Testament talk of “the end” (such as 1 Peter 4:7).
As long as salvation required human intermediaries – whether that be kings or priests of Israel, or whether it be elders or pastors of churches – salvation could not always be close at hand. But in the kingdom of God, all administration is by God and salvation is near and available to all who believe. It is no longer necessary to trust in humans in order to trust in God; it is only necessary to trust in God (Jeremiah 17:5-8).
Do not seek the living among the dead (Luke 24:5). Rather seek the living One who is always near (Psalm 145:18). Be aware, however, that you must hate your sins and love righteousness in order to experience Him. You do not have to be perfect, but you do need to make progress – just as the true believers in the New Testament church were doing. If you draw near to Him, He will know it. Trust that He does! (See James 4:8)
The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.